Does Paint Dry Darker or Lighter?

Everyone wants to know if the color they choose to paint their home will match the color they see in the finished product. This is where the question arises, “Does paint dry darker or lighter?”

Paints may dry differently and change their appearance depending on their properties. Usually, the paint dries one shade darker. This is why wet paint will often appear to be a different color than dry paint.

But you can rest easy knowing that the color swatch usually shows what the final result will look like.

Read this guide to learn which paints will change shade after drying and what factors will affect the color.

Will My Dry Paint Appear Darker?

Generally, the paint dries darker due to the water in the paint evaporating and emulsifying, making it appear milky. This happens in most latex paints, oil paints, and enamels, except for watercolors.

As the name would suggest, watercolors are thinned out using loads of water; thus, they dry lighter as the water evaporates.

Which Kinds of Paints Dry Darker?

The most common paints that dry darker are latex, acrylic, and oil-based. Each of these paints has distinct features to meet your painting needs.

1.   Latex Paints

Latex paints are water-based paints. These paints are excellent for repainting projects like giving a new color to room walls, doors, or trim. Latex paints will dry in a darker shade than when they are wet, but they will match the original color swatch of the paint.

2.   Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints are more on the decorative and creative side. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are less affected than other wall paints when they dry. People use this paint on canvas, ceramic, wood, fabric, and metal. It will appear darker than the color in the paint tube but will be the same as the color swatch.

3.   Oil Based Paint

Oil-based paints require plenty of time in the drying process. These paints are generally used in paintings and portraits. Many people believe Leonardo Da Vinci’s old paintings are still wet under the dried paint. Nevertheless, the dried paint comes out much darker than wet paint.

Which Factors Contribute to How Paint Color Appears?

If you have painted a wall before, you may have noticed how the paint color dried into a darker or lighter shade. It is worth knowing that high-quality paints will never be a different shade than the color swatches. Moreover, the drying process lasts around 8 hours.

Let’s check out some factors that may affect the paint color’s appearance.

1.   Light Intensity

Lighting is the primary factor that determines how much darker or lighter the paint color will look. Therefore, the paint color will also change whenever you alter the lighting. This means that your paint shade may appear up to two times darker based on the lighting in the interior.

Halogen light, daylight, sunlight, fluorescent light, and incandescent light affect the paint color differently. The interior paint will look lighter if your house is free of trees and has a lot of natural lighting. On the other hand, the paint will seem darker if the room doesn’t have many windows and contains cool natural lighting.

To see how the paint color looks when dry, take a paint sample and apply it wherever you plan to use it on a large scale.

Secondly, you can also apply the paint sample to the foam board and see it at different angles of the place you want to paint. Place the foam board over the surface you want to paint since different angles can make the paint color come out differently.

Also, view the painted board at different times of the day and try to use different light sources to see how the paint color emerges before making the final decision.

2.   The Finish

The finish is another crucial element that decides how the paint will look because the durability and adherence of the paint are directly proportional to the finish. You can choose different finishes like gloss, matte, flat, semi-gloss, high gloss, satin, or eggshell.

Flat and matte-finish paints will look lighter than paints with a higher finish, like a gloss. Due to the absence of gloss, these paints do not reflect light.

The gloss finish will give it a dark, rich color. This happens because the glossy surface reflects and absorbs the light simultaneously. The paint color appears dark when it bounces back more light. However, the paint color remains lighter if the painted surface absorbs light.

3.   Paint Coverage

Paint coverage can also have a significant impact on the final look of the paint. In the case of low coverage, the paint will give a “see-through” look, and the surface beneath it will be visible. Therefore, the newly painted layer will not display the actual color. It is wise to apply paint in a way that has full coverage.

High-grade paints can easily give full coverage in just a single coat. But low-quality paints may not cover well and may need more than one coat to cover fully. Low-grade paints are cheaper than high-grade paints due to their low pigment loads.

Because of this, low-quality paint is usually only used in commercial settings, such as offices, where the walls need to be repainted to keep up with standards. Medium-grade paints, however, are utilized in places where repainting is required after a year or two, like rooms for children. High-grade paints usually stay best in environments where repainting is not done.

4.   Nearby Objects

If the final appearance of the painted wall is darker or lighter than expected, nearby objects might be to blame. Our environment affects the way we see the things around us. The same thing happens with paint. We notice paint colors corresponding to other paint colors and objects in our surroundings.

For instance, let’s say you have decided to paint your accent wall and want it to appear slightly darker than other walls. The other walls are light gray, and you have chosen a darker gray for the accent wall.

In the color swatch, it didn’t seem that much darker than other walls at the store, but when you painted your wall, it gave a much darker look. Why is that?

Lighter colors in the room produce a deceiving contrast. Bright colors tend to bounce back the light, while dark colors take it in. Therefore, the contrast between light gray and dark gray will make the latter look darker.

Wrapping Up — Does Paint Dry Darker or Lighter?

Many factors can make your painted wall appear darker or lighter. However, no matter which shade you buy, it’s wise to opt for high-quality paints. In addition to their durability, these paints will give the same color as the color swatch and eliminate any guesswork. Opt for high-quality paints to avoid the “color change” of your paint.

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